Nick Kyrgios risks a heavy fine after going into a sulk and appearing to stop trying during his Wimbledon fourth-round match against Richard Gasquet.
The 20-year-old Australian downed tools early in the second set of the clash on Court Two, where he also was given a ticking off for swearing and rowed with British umpire James Keothavong over a change of socks.
It was the code violation for an “audible obscenity” that seemed to spark the petulance from Kyrgios, who was a break down when Keothavong warned him over his coarse language.
Kyrgios was booed by hundreds of fans who rightly felt short-changed by his lack of effort, and it barely improved as he gave up the second set in just 24 minutes.
From 5-5 in what was an absorbing opening set, Gasquet was given a helping hand as he extended his run of games to seven in succession before Kyrgios stopped the rot.
His childish attitude, though, could bring with it a cost.
International Tennis Federation rules state: “A player shall use his best efforts to win a match when competing in a grand slam tournament. Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $20,000 (£12,860) for each violation.”
Additionally, the rules state: “In circumstances that are flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament, or are singularly egregious, a single violation ... shall also constitute the major offence of ‘aggravated behaviour’ and shall be subject to the additional penalties hereinafter set forth therefore.”
This allows the ITF to impose a penalty of $250,000 (£160,000).
In the third game of the second set, facing Gasquet’s serve, Kyrgios let two serves slide by him for aces without even swinging his racquet.
He meekly fed back two further serves from Gasquet into the net in a game of complete surrender.
The effort remained minimal, as two more games raced by, albeit peppered with some spectacular shot-making when Kyrgios fancied showing the crowd his talent.
The third set also saw Kyrgios and Keothavong – brother of former British player Anne Keothavong – in a bizarre exchange over the Australian adjusting his kit. “I’m changing my socks,” Kyrgios explained to Keothavong at the changeover. “I’ve taken one pair off. I’ve got two on and I’m taking one pair off.”
After Keothavong replied to Kyrgios, the combustible Canberra man said: “I’m staying on the court. If you’re going to get angry with me for that, that’s another level.
“Mate, Rafa (Rafael Nadal) and stuff play 30 seconds in between points every time and all I’m doing is putting my sock back on.”
Referring to Gasquet, Kyrgios said: “I’m sure he’ll understand.”
Gasquet held his nerve in a fourth-set tie-break to win through to the quarter-finals, taking the match 7-5 6-1 6-7 (7/9) 7-6 (8/6).